Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Oh dear... this one is going to stick...

By Carl 

Romney outsourced fetuses:

Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when the Huffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate's reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.

But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney's exit from Bain.

The Stericycle deal—the abortion connection aside—is relevant because of questions regarding the timing of Romney's departure from the private equity firm he founded. Responding to a recent Washington Post story reporting that Bain-acquired companies outsourced jobs, the Romney campaign insisted that Romney exited Bain in February 1999, a month or more before Bain took over two of the companies named in the Post's article. The SEC documents undercut that defense, indicating that Romney still played a role in Bain investments until at least the end of 1999. 

That's gonna leave a mark. You could make the case that his direct involvement in Bain decisions made after he "left" is irrelevant. He created a culture where farming baby corpses was acceptable behavior, full stop. Granted, if he was not informed of the intents of Bain Capital, it's hard to blame him for decisions they made post-departure.

But as the Mother Jones article shows, Romney was directly and actively partcipating in the decision to acquire Stericycle. Indeed, it's impossible that he was not deeply involved: he was the sole shareholder of at least three entities Bain lists in an SEC filing with regards to its purchase of Stericycle.

Now, no one is denying that aborted fetuses need to be disposed of, and Stericycle seems to be a pretty appropriate organization to do so. Indeed, if it hadn't run afoul of nearly every OSHA regulation with respect to handling medical waste, and hadn't been forced to settle with the states of Arizona... Arizona!... and Utah for antitrust actions in those states, it likely would have slipped into the deep chasm of anonymity, and Romney's campaign wouldn't be in such serious trouble.

In case you were wondering why Obama has never been intimidated by the spectre of a Romney candidacy throwing gobs of money against the wall to smear him, this is why.

Romney is in a no-win situation with this: he has offended and pissed off the very people who grudgingly got in line to support him and managed to make his lies the centerpiece of his campaign this week at a critical moment in the campaign cycle: the Fourth of July. Many people aren't going away because it's in the middle of the week, so they're staying home and paying attention to the news.

That sound you're hearing? The noise from the game Pac-Man when Pac gets eaten? That's the campaign theme for Romney now.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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